Karratha business community calls on government and industry to invest to improve quality of life

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Karratha Chamber of Commerce calls for longer-term state and industry investment in Pilbara communities as sales in the minerals and petroleum sector hit record highs.

The government of Western Australia recently announced that the industry had $ 210 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2020/2021, an increase of $ 38 billion from the previous year. .

Karratha and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KDCCI) chairman Jared Fitzclarence said that while there was “significant” government and industry spending in the region, a lack of coherent framework meant that the money varied “considerably” between projects.

“There is a strong disparity between organizations that could and should contribute and benefit from the region’s resource richness,” he said.

“We have also seen an erosion of the strength of the Royalties for Regions fund, this does not bode well for the strength and long term sustainability of the regional communities that depend on this funding.

Accommodation, paid services

According to the Real Estate Institute of WA, from June to July, Karratha had a rental vacancy rate of 0.9% and a median sale price of $ 491,750, an increase of 14.4% over the last year.

Mr Fitzclarence said government and industry reinvestment must take a multidimensional approach to improve the sustainability of Pilbara communities.

“Addressing some of the social issues affecting the region, such as affordability of housing and the lack of mental health or childcare services,” he said.

Karratha was originally built to service nearby resource industry projects.(ABC Northwest WA: Susan Standen)

“More broadly, seek to implement long-term strategies to promote the region’s quality of life and move away from the long-term involvement of FIFO.”

Mr Fitzclarence said supporting the More Than Mining campaign to develop regional mining communities, as well as investing in key services, would stabilize the cost of living and encourage growth in Karratha.

“Not only providing services directly to the mining industry, but… all of these other professions within a vibrant and thriving community. “

Karratha is no longer a “short-term” town

The chamber president said that with the guaranteed life expectancy of 100 years for Karratha iron ore and investments in other mineral and energy sources, the towns originally built for mining labor became regional centers.

Head of Jared Fitzclarence.
Jared Fitzclarence says the communities of Pilbara have become regional hubs and need additional investment.(Provided: KDCCI)

“With more sane and forward thinking strategies in the 60s and 70s, Karratha could be a thriving regional center of 300,000 people and a northern city at the gateway to Asia,” he said. .

“We always see that ‘we’ll only do what we have to do’ mindset, and it perpetuates that notion of a trivial regional center and turmoil.

“We are losing opportunities to develop many exciting projects and opportunities in the region due to increasing cost of doing business, lack of capital investment, etc.

WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said she did not accept the premise of the KDCCI position.

“Our government is making major investments in the Pilbara in infrastructure, education, health care and community services,” she said.

Ms MacTiernan listed more than 20 projects in the Pilbara that the state government had invested in, including the $ 121 million Port Hedland Spoilbank marina, a $ 61 million redevelopment of Newman’s health department and a $ 42 million redevelopment of Roebourne District High School.

Minerals and Energy Chamber policy and advocacy director Rob Carruthers said the resource sector contributed $ 12.7 billion in royalties and levies to state government in 2020/2021 .

“As far as the Pilbara is concerned, a lot of this flow goes back to the region where it came from,” he said.

“Then if you think of the businesses themselves, they invest in community infrastructure and services on top of that.

“So there is really a double whammy for the people of Pilbara who benefit both from the support of the government but also from the companies which generate so much wealth in the region.”

He said the resource sector has made substantial investments in long-term infrastructure to make Pilbara a great place to live and work.

“When people like Rio Tinto or Woodside make long-term investments in cities like Karratha, investments like the Red Earth Arts Precinct or the Leisureplex, they do it with a long-term vision,” he said. .


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